Apple subsidiary FileMaker has been busy; the flagship database app grows by another leap today with the release of version 11. We were lucky enough to get a pre-release demo at Macworld Expo in February and were duly impressed. As someone who's been using FileMaker since version 6, I'm thrilled with some of the additions to this update; let's get to it.
Right off the bat, the introduction screen is new (after the splash screen "wobbles" into view). It's wider with more options, like a link to the online resource center. There you'll find video tutorials, starter solutions (more on that later) and access to consultants. They're all extremely useful and aimed at users and developers alike.
The big news starts with built-in support for charts. For years, developers and users have employed plug-ins and other 3rd-party solutions to get charting done, or they simply exported data to Excel. Now those extra efforts may be a thing of the past.
As you would imagine, adding a chart is super easy. While in layout mode, use the new chart tool to drag out a charting area. From there, the setup screen appears.
This is a real pleasure to use. You can select between a bar graph (horizontal or vertical), line chart, area or pie. Give your chart a name, or base its name on a field or calculation. Likewise, the X and Y axis can be labeled with your own titles or a field or calculation. If you've got more than one Y axis variable (for example, number of occurrences and procedure duration) adding each is as simple as a click. Finally, you can pull data from a found set, the current record only, or from related records -- which is awesome.
Now it gets fun. Click "Format Chart" to style all aspects of your chart. Select your color palette (options are presented as cute color samples), fonts, backgrounds and axis labels plus scale minimums and maximums. It's full-featured and nearly everything I wanted when I was stuck routinely exporting data to Excel just to make charts with version 6. In my testing this was simple and effective.
The only thing missing for me is a scatter plot option, but a line chart could do the job in a pinch.